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What do you want me to say ?
        There is life after failure.




                            Filip Maertens @fmaerten...
It sucks !
Seriously. It does. So let’s not glorify things here.
Project Fail!                                           Company Fail!


Intro
   Background
   Uh oh
   Lessons learned
  ...
February	
        Acquired 27% of the shares of the company and started fundraising
     2008	
  
                       G...
WTF happened here ?

              > 1,5M revenue, 12M M&A, good traction … and 20k short


                              ...
#1 Do one thing. And be awesome in it !

 Diversification is high-level management bullsh*t. Focus first !

 Growing one bus...
#2 Buy enough runway. Don’t underfund. 

 Running out of cash before market-fit is textbook recipe for failure.

 Time your...
#3 Only roll with the A-Team

 Hire Fast. Fire Fast.
           Pick investors that understand your business.

 Be intoler...
#4 Release when you feel confident.

 Done is better than perfect.
              Stay lean until growth, then accelerate.

...
#5 Never give up !

 The founding team must show great passion and resilience.

 Push through negativity.
             Fig...
“ It always gets worse
before it gets better ”
On 27.05.2009 I’ve learnt an important lesson:
                      
    Lack of cash was never the problem. 
Lack of pas...
“ In the end everything will be OK
If it’s not OK, you’re at the end yet. ”
The fallout…

 You become a toxic product to many. You failed = loser.

 Suck it up and deal with it. Rebound fast. 
 Don’...
On failure…

 It made me a more determined and seasoned entrepreneur.

 It made me fearless and gave me perspective.
     ...
Don’t let your fear of failure strip you 
          from your passion
                     
  Go big ! Be fearless ! Be pa...
And me, 28 months later ?
        Financed VOIP Depot, profitable and growing
        Trade-sold my niche cyber-security co...
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Fail Con 2012

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My personal story and lessons learned of having had one failure as the CEO of a promising start-up, called Attractel back in 2008.

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Fail Con 2012

  1. 1. What do you want me to say ? There is life after failure. Filip Maertens @fmaertens  
  2. 2. It sucks ! Seriously. It does. So let’s not glorify things here.
  3. 3. Project Fail! Company Fail! Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  4. 4. February   Acquired 27% of the shares of the company and started fundraising 2008   Got real cool VOIP tech and traction, e.g. AT&T EUR 250k debt trouble came with it May   Raised EUR 500k with one angel investor 2008   Bought runway Bought too little November   3 revenue streams in excess of EUR 1,5M - 2 profitable, 1 launching 2008   Reduced from 11 revenue streams Still had 2 too many January   Got EUR 12M in two acquisition offers 2009   Dude ! Seriously ? The offer is peanuts. Go fish ! Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  5. 5. WTF happened here ? > 1,5M revenue, 12M M&A, good traction … and 20k short November   May   2008   2009   Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  6. 6. #1 Do one thing. And be awesome in it ! Diversification is high-level management bullsh*t. Focus first ! Growing one business is hard. Two is exponentially harder. I had 3 business units. 2 too many. Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  7. 7. #2 Buy enough runway. Don’t underfund. Running out of cash before market-fit is textbook recipe for failure. Time your fundraising. Beggars can’t be choosers. Pivot or die. Always buffer. Don’t settle for anything less ! I required EUR 1,7M. Not EUR 500k. Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  8. 8. #3 Only roll with the A-Team Hire Fast. Fire Fast. Pick investors that understand your business. Be intolerant for incompetence. Be brutal to ego’s. Be a lean team. Don’t get me started… Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  9. 9. #4 Release when you feel confident. Done is better than perfect. Stay lean until growth, then accelerate. Don’t let anyone push to release too soon. Release stable versions. Released Zalloo too soon. Overhead and headaches. Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  10. 10. #5 Never give up ! The founding team must show great passion and resilience. Push through negativity. Fight as if you’re on death ground. Original founding team was tired and gave up. Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  11. 11. “ It always gets worse before it gets better ”
  12. 12. On 27.05.2009 I’ve learnt an important lesson: Lack of cash was never the problem. Lack of passion of the original Founders was. … and I didn’t see that one coming.
  13. 13. “ In the end everything will be OK If it’s not OK, you’re at the end yet. ”
  14. 14. The fallout… You become a toxic product to many. You failed = loser. Suck it up and deal with it. Rebound fast. Don’t isolate. Be a contrarian. Hack the Belgian mentality. Regain confidence. Do whatever it is you have to do. But do it fast. Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  15. 15. On failure… It made me a more determined and seasoned entrepreneur. It made me fearless and gave me perspective. It made me tougher. Failure is a side effect of innovation. … yet, avoid if possible. You’re in Belgium: Petit pays. Petit esprit. Petit zizi. Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
  16. 16. Don’t let your fear of failure strip you from your passion Go big ! Be fearless ! Be passionate !
  17. 17. And me, 28 months later ? Financed VOIP Depot, profitable and growing Trade-sold my niche cyber-security company Founded and financed my mobile start-up and awaited app Jini Happy to be free of fear and working on what I love ! Filip Maertens @fmaertens  
  • XStefanieG

    Nov. 6, 2012

My personal story and lessons learned of having had one failure as the CEO of a promising start-up, called Attractel back in 2008.

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